Bribing my kids with Netflix

When I was earning my teaching credential, I would have told you that my classroom management was based on positive reinforcement and intrinsic rewards.  It was an idealistic, politically-correct point of view that I still believe, but sometimes you need more than praise to keep a class in check - because there will always be those students for whom misbehavior is its own reward!  So what do you do when you have students who would rather follow their own directions instead of yours?  You bribe them with a reward that's more appealing than crawling on the floor and untying classmates' shoes during your math lesson. And that reward's name is Netflix.

I initially signed up for Netflix so I could binge watch TV during my Christmas break.  But I happily discovered that there are some really great educational cartoons under the "Kids" section.  My students' favorite is "Word Girl," a PBS Kids cartoon.  Each episode features at least two great vocabulary words that are used over and over in a context that makes them easy to understand and remember. 

So now, instead of giving the kids table points like I was doing previously, the entire class works to earn points as a whole.  Each tally mark on the white board stands for one minute of a Word Girl video.  Anytime the kids start getting too rambunctious, I tell them that I'd reeeeallly like to give them more Word Girl minutes, but I can't until everyone starts listening and doing a better job of following directions. They snap right to attention!  At the end of the day (or the beginning of the following day), I set a timer on my phone for however many minutes the kids have earned, and play an episode until the timer goes off. The best is when the kids are left hanging, and can't finish the episode, because then they're that much more eager to earn more minutes so they can finish watching!

But how do I justify showing videos in class? you may ask, even if only for ten-fifteen minutes a day?  My next post will be on how I structure my vocabulary lessons around the Word Girl videos, so that even my kids' reward time is instructional.